|At a glance|
|Product||Foscam Indoor HD 720P Wireless Plug and Play IP Camera (C1) [Website]|
|Summary||Inexpensive cloud-capable IP camera with night vision and configurable motion zones|
|Pros||• Very easy QR code based setup|
• Lots of features for a very good price
• Motion detection seemed very solid
• Two-way audio
• Integrates with other systems, lots of configuration options
• Cloud recording allowed for setting motion detection zones
|Cons||• Cloud recording requires port forwarding and user account configuration|
• The use of multiple apps and URLs is confusing
• Myfoscam.com works with limited browsers
• Inconsistent information between product websites
Foscam has been around for awhile, selling a wide selection of cost-effective IP cameras. Today we're going to be looking at Foscam's C1. On the surface, the Foscam C1 looks like a it might compete with the Nest Cam at a third of the price. So I'll be comparing the two frequently during the course of this review. Note I'll be circling back to the Nest Cam for its own full review soon.
The image below shows the Foscam C1's callouts. Take note of typical features like 11 IR LEDs, PIR sensor for motion detection and microphone. Then notice things we don't typically see as often (especially on a $60 camera), such as a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port and Micro SD card slot for local recording. One more thing that's not obvious, is the plastic construction of the Foscam C1 vs. the Nest Cam's more solid metal construction.
Foscam C1 callouts
The C1 is a 720p HD camera, with videos from the camera downloading at 1280x720 resolution. The camera connects by either 2.4 GHz wireless or 10/100 Mbps Ethernet. Inside the box you get a microUSB cable, wall-wart USB charger, the C1, some mounting screws and a Quick Setup guide with optional CD.
I collected all of the information I could about Foscam C1 from their published specs into Table 1 below along with Nest Cam's specs.
|Foscam C1||Nest Cam|
|Horizontal field of view||115°||130°|
|Vertical field of view|
|Number of IR LED's||11||8|
|Record to SD card||Yes||No|
|Record to network share||No (FTP yes)||No|
|Record to cloud||Yes||Yes|
|Wireless||N150 class 2.4 GHz only||N150 class dual-band|
|Pan/tilt/zoom||Yes, digital||Zoom, digital|
|Can integrate w/ other systems||Yes||Sort of|
Table 1: Spec summary and comparison
The C1's setup was easier than both the recently-reviewed Canary and Piper nv. After downloading the Foscam app and creating an account, the app popped up a QR code reader, which I simply used to scan the code on the back of the camera. This put the camera into "EZLink" mode. I just entered my wireless network information into the app, which then sent it to the camera to complete connection.
I was slightly puzzled as to how this works since the camera had only power connected. I checked and my phone had stayed on my home wireless network, so it wasn't connecting to a proprietary wireless network like the Piper does during installation.
I opened a support case with Foscam to try and get information on how communication of the wireless network info was occuring. I received a very fast response, although with very little information.
Since the Nest Cam also uses a QR code for setup, I decided to open a support case with them. I found Nest Cam uses a Bluetooth connection for initial setup after the QR code is scanned. But since the C1 has no Bluetooth, some other mechanism is used.
The image below shows the steps that took place from scanning the camera to being online. If you note the phone time in the upper right-hand corner, you see that from scanning the QR code to being online with video it was literally two minutes, which included taking screenshots.
Foscam C1 QR code setup screens
It should be noted that the QR code method isn't the only method available for setup. The camera also supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) and a mode called "Soft AP". With Soft AP, the camera creates its own wireless network (like we saw with Piper), which you then connect to for configuration. Lastly, you can simply plug in an Ethernet cable and let the C1 pick up an IP address via DHCP. Since the QR code method worked easily, I did not try the other three methods.
Once set up, live video can be accessed via the Foscam app on Android or iOS or via a browser at https://www.myfoscam.com. But this is where things gets a little confusing. The Foscam app, which you see below, shows Live Video remotely. You can save snapshots and manually record movie clips locally, as well use the camera as an intercom with two-way audio.
You can also turn the IR LEDs on and off, adjust video bandwidth, rotate the image and view Public cameras like the old Dropcam app had. There's even a bandwidth indicator to show how much bandwidth you are using.
Just about anything you can do in the camera's admin screens (which I've included in the gallery) can be done in the Foscam app (or myfoscam.com), which changes the camera configuration with no router port forwarding required. The Image below shows several of the Foscam app screens, including Live Video, Settings, Motion Detection and Night Vision Schedule.
Foscam app screens
However, both the Foscam app and myfoscam.com do not record or allow you to view cloud-based video. Cloud video requires a completely separate app and URL.To add to the confusion, the myfoscam.com website says cloud video is not supported for the Foscam C1 at all, when in fact it is. Note myfoscam.com does not support Chrome, Firefox or IE 64-bit and had a Flash player problem on IE 32-bit.